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Making human insights accessible—and relevant—to everyone with Harmonic Design's Patrick Quattlebaum

Making human insights accessible—and relevant—to everyone with Harmonic Design's Patrick Quattlebaum

Jennifer DeRome  |  August 22, 2018

Customer experiences are increasingly complex with multiple channels, touchpoints, and contexts all delivered by fragmented organizations. We recently hosted a webinar with Patrick Quattlebaum, co-founder and Chief Customer Officer at Harmonic Design, to delve into the world of researching customer experiences and all its moving parts. Patrick discussed emerging practices at the intersection of design strategy, design research, and service design that help organizations create products and services that deliver sustainable value. There were so many great questions that we didn’t have time to get to them all, so we’re including a few more here that Patrick graciously answered following the webinar. If you weren’t able to attend the webinar live, follow along for the key takeaways or watch the full webinar here.

How can you encourage folks who are new to research to get comfortable conducting interviews?

I think that by finding a mentor who’s experienced with gathering insights, then finding a study where you can be a fly on the wall to see how it's done is a great way to start. We take a lot of non-designers into the field and have them sit in on the session. They're there to observe and understand how you get this type of information and run a research session, and they don’t need to worry about interacting with participants or conducting the interviews. That level of exposure is a great way to get people that aren’t as experienced with customer research comfortable, by allowing them to see how it’s done firsthand, without expecting them to do all the heavy lifting right away.

What challenges have you faced when attempting to involve non-designers or researchers?

It’s important to remember that you’re not trying to turn somebody into a designer, you’re trying to get them to participate in the design process. It's kind of a bell curve where some people that you'll engage with will get so into it that they just discovered that they want to do that for a living. Toward the middle of the curve you have people that will be more engaged, they just may need a bit more guidance on why their participation is so helpful. At the other end of the curve, you’ll have people that just aren’t interested in participating, and that’s OK. It happens all the time, so don’t let that worry you. It’s important to make sure you’re creating a good experience for your team. For example, a bad experience would be somebody coming in and never understanding why they were invited. You need to make sure that everyone can see a direct line between their area of expertise and the work you’re doing with them. Do that, and they’ll see how the design process is helping them contribute their superpowers, their skills, their knowledge to something bigger than themselves. It's all about just trying to make it as accessible as possible. If you make it personal and help them understand how they fit in with what you're doing most people will participate in a positive way.

How do you get an organization on board with the practice of conducting continuous research?

It helps to look really hard at the type of initiatives that are in the works within your company already. Once you find them, see if you can find allies or champions to help show the value in human insights and ultimately what you’re trying to achieve. Now, if it's a situation where no research is happening—not human-centered, design, or anything else—you may need to take a combined approach to show emerging best practices in the industry along with working backward from what you would use the information for. What you really need to talk about is what you’re using that feedback for and what kind of design decisions you’re trying to make from it. From there, you can connect the dots and show that, for example, a customer journey isn’t just about a bunch of post-its on the wall. You’re trying to connect the dots and make sure each experience is connected to the rest of the journey and that we're creating certain outcomes.

What else would you like people to understand about user experience research?

It's for everyone, it’s iterative, it's participatory, and it's human-centered. And, that there's a great opportunity in organizations for people who approach things more holistically and want to help connect people within the organization, and connect them better to customers and employees through human insights.

Want to learn more?

You can listen to the webinar in its entirety here, or if you’d like to learn how UserTesting can help you understand your customers through on-demand human insights, contact us here.

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About the author:

Jennifer is a Senior Content Strategist for UserTesting. When she's not dreaming up new ways to connect with audiences, you can find her traveling around the world or enjoying a glass of wine with friends.